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Family dog killed by pit bull

READ MORE: Family dog killed by pit bull

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A Wilmington family continues to grieve a week after losing their dog. The Romano family says a neighbor's pit bull forced its way into their backyard and killed their Jack Russell. The family says the dog has attacked before and now they want authorities to hold the owner responsible.

"Lucy was my constant companion," said Melanie Romero. "We lost a family member for sure."

Romano says on November 1, she came home and discovered a circle of blood in her backyard.

"The neighbor next door told me there had been a lot of commotion earlier. He thought I had a dog visiting because there was a black pit (bull) in my backyard," said Romano.

Another neighbor told Romano that John, another neighbor, had ran out of his home calling for his pit bulls earlier in the day. Romano says she tried to get in touch with her neighbor John Tooker; hours later he returned home with Lucy's remains in the back of his jeep.

"I saw her face. I smelled death in his (Tooker) car when he opened his door," Romano said. "I was very upset."

Romano says Tooker told her that he took Lucy, who was still alive, because he did not want the Romano kids to see the dog in that condition. Romano says Tooker did not even take the dog to the veterinarian instead he went to class. She wants her neighbor to be held responsible for his dog’s actions.

The Wilmington Police Department says there are no charges filed against Tooker since there are no eyewitnesses to the attack. New Hanover County Animal Control has stepped in, recovering two pit bulls from Tooker's home. Animal control says the dogs have been deemed dangerous due to a prior incident. The recent attack means the dogs may soon be euthanized.

"It is unfortunate but we do see repeat offenders in these situations," said Jean McNeil, Animal Control Services Manager. "It is one of the most discouraging things we deal with."

Tooker says he is sorry for the Romano's loss, calling the incident a freak accident. He plans on appealing to animal control in order to save his pit bulls from being euthanized. Tooker says animal control recovered two of his dogs but only one was involved.

Romano believes Tooker should not be allowed to own any animals but according to the county Tooker would be allowed to own other pets even if the board denies his appeal involving the pit bulls that were recovered.

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It's often said that the breed of dogs is not to blame...

and I agree with that. Unfortunately, it seems more common than not that the breed of people who feel compelled to own vicious dogs seem to be the last people who should own such breeds. It's as reckless as giving a gun to a child.

The sort of people who own these breeds of dogs seem to be the people who, with one glance you know that if they finished high school, they spent a lot of time eating paint chips in the back of a class that had paint over the classroom door window so no one could see who took the less than remedial courses. I guess what I'm saying is that the type of people who own these dogs seem to have substandard I.Q. scores and lack responsibility and that's why this type of story seems to repeat itself over and over. I would honestly feel more comfortable with a convicted felon living next door to me than the owner of a pit bull or Rottweiler.


Mr. tooker you are piece of ..... for not taking this dog to a VET!!!! If it was still alive they could have tried to save it or either put it down and end the suffering it was going through.
I have a feeling you will face your Karma soon.

You should be fined by law enforecement and the owners should sue your butt for negligence.

dog lover
Wilmington, NC

Totally Agree

I totally agree. This could have just as easily been a small child. This guy isn't even human to leave an animal to suffer and die the way this one did. He shouldn't be allowed to have an animal. He doesn't deserve one. What a piece of total sh*t!


He could have dumped the dog and act like he had no idea what happened. Least he was honest about it.

you know based on the fact

you know based on the fact that most and all vets office's in the sourrounding area are open till 6 pm he had no intentions of taking her to the vets to have her checked out and given a chance to live. its sounds like if the owners of the killed dog had not persued trying to find her that he would have not called them back or even considered bringing her back and they would have to be left feeling like she just cralwed off and died on her own. so all he can do now is lie about what really happened and what he says he tried to do


The article stated that there was a pool of blood in the back yard and that the neighbors saw the man looking for his dog.... No way in hell he could have played dumb about it....

Also, to the guy that mentions his service in IRAQ... well on veterens day i say my thanks for his service... but no way in hell do you get excused if you didn't take my dog to a vet..after your dog ingured it.... their are emergency vets in town if you call 411... your dog would not be living long if it attacked and killed my family member/pet.

also... if these dogs were taken to the dog park when they were young and had the chance to interact with other dogs then they would not be agressive.. i have seen several pits at the dog park they get along fine with small dogs... dogs that kill other dogs get this agression from somewhere other than just their genes.... mr. tooker should not be allowed to own any dog that has a reputation for agression period!!

Wilmington, NC.

Good Grief!

Soooo...if the neighbor's dog had killed a child instead of another dog, as long as the neighbor fessed up and was honest about it, it would be OK?

Good grief!


How you dorks are pulling things like this from my comment is hysterical ! (Inserting sarcastic remark now)...Yeah a KID is the same as a DOG, ok then.


I didn't say a kid is "the same as a dog", idiot. That's YOUR stupid quote. I said it could have just as well been a kid. Understand the difference, or is that too deep for you?

But you did prove one thing're not woman or man enough to admit when you're wrong. Sounds like you have about as much character as Tooker. Loser.


Wrong? About what? I can read and comprehend unlike most of you trolls. I am not the one who got my panties in a wad over this. Hahahaaa


Are you serious? The guy placed this small, helpless animal in his vehicle, went to class, and that dog died a slow, painful, horrible death in the man's car. And you think he's honest? He didn't even act human!

Geeezzzz. Everyone has a right to be stupid; some people just abuse the privilege.


I don't see how my comment makes me stupid, its the truth. Tooker could have easily played dumb. I imagine the dog would not have survived either way.

John Tooker

John Tooker only returned the dog because the Romano family did there part investigating and knew to much...he never planned to bring Lucy home.


What makes you think he was talking about you? Maybe he meant the neighbor......Naaahhhh. It was you.


Maybe the dog wouldn't have survived either way, but he could have died peacefully and out of pain in a vet's office and in his owner's arms. But I can see I'm wasting my time trying to explain it to you. You're clueless.

Pit Bull attacks

Freak accident, Mr. Tooker? This is the third "freak accident" involving your animals. Will a child have to be injured or killed for something to be done?

Why do people leave animals in the backyard and make them victim

People that leave their animals out in the backyard unattended are allowing these innocent victims to be attacked and killed whether it be by another animal, human looking for bait animals, a wild animal, the road, when they dig out or jump the fence.

THE OWNER is responsible for these senseless attacks. You are blaming a terrier that is a dog. You are supposed to be protecting them not setting them up to be killed. YOU ARE TO BLAME.....

My mom left the dogs out in

My mom left the dogs out in our FENCED IN backyard for 30 minutes tops to pick me up from school. They were safe and protected until the pitbulls came into our FENCED IN BACKYARD. We are no where near responsible for the pitbulls attacking our dog.

John Tooker

Really, the owner is to blame for having a beautiful backyard for their dogs to play in?? Shame on you!

Linda Ferrell

You need to wake up lady. You are a complete dumb A if you don't realize this is the owner of the pitbulls fault...

He should be charged with negligence and harboring a dangerous animal... if i understand correctly this isn't the first time their has been a problem with this dog.... Next time if may just be a little child... It happens all of the country everyday....


I'm not a big fan of leaving dogs outside for most of their lives either. Dogs love to be around people, and some of them turn mean when left alone too long without human companionship. I've seen some people leave their dogs out in all kinds of weather where the animal could die from heat stroke or freeze to death in the cold. However, that being said, I think the majority of folks are just giving their pets some time outdoors.

I totally disagree that it's the owner's fault. The dog is on their own property, and the owner has every right to believe their dog should be safe while confined within their own fence. If it was me, and a dog was attacking my animal, I'd grab my .357 and it would be a dead neighbor's dog. There's no excuse for this happening. It could just have easily been a small child.

Poor Lucy!

Poor Lucy was just hanging out in her own backyard. It might have been a pretty day and as long as she was contained in her own fenced yard, just chillin' at the house, why would that make it the owners fault? Why keep her cooped up in the house all day as long as she wasn't a danger to someone. The pit bull entered HER yard. If this was a person, it would be trespassing. From what I can tell from the story, this happended while Mr. Tooker was home, otherwise, how would he know the dog was injured and put her in his jeep? It's discusting to me that he took her to just die in the car without seeking a vet. The need to put the pit bull down.... second offense as I can tell.


maybe because pets AREN'T HUMANS...and they belong OUTSIDE....I sit back and wonder how all those foxes, bobcats and deer make it in this world....


Human? No, but...

They aren't human, but they deserve to have a warm place to sleep in the winter, and cool shade and water in the summer. They shouldn't be left outside ALL the time because they need human companionship sometimes. Why even have an animal if the owner never interacts with it? (I'm not speaking about you, I'm just trying to get a point across.)

It's horrible that this happened at all, but it's NOT the owner's fault. If a dog is in an enclosed fence behind his owner's house, and another dog jumps the fence and attacks it, it would be the owners right to destroy the attacking animal with whatever means necessary.

Lucy and our other dog were

Lucy and our other dog were only left outside for atleast 30 minutes while my mom Melanie went to pick me up from school. They are never left outside ALL the time. Just wanted to clarify


So if it were a car, you'd be setting it up to be stolen because you left it in the drive way?

I guess the pit bull had every right to come onto someone's property and attack and kill a pet?

Put down your "occupy" sign long enough to think.

The pit bull owner had the responsibility to ensure the safety of neighbors property and pets, especially if this was not the first incident regarding his dog. Put the responsibility where it belongs.

People have a right to be secure in their homes and property. This owner did nothing wrong, leaving the pet to play in the yard.

"You are supposed to be protecting them not setting them up to be killed. YOU ARE TO BLAME..."

Yours has to be the most ignorant comment I've seen, regardless of the subject, period.

The owner is responsible....THE PIT BULL OWNER. I smell a civil suit, and if i were on the jury, Mr. pit bull owner had better have "deep pockets".

"Tooker says he is sorry for the Romano's loss, calling the incident a freak accident."

Somehow, i don't think Mr. Tooker is as sorry as the Romano's.

If your a landlord, don't allow pit bulls.
If your a homeowner, think about the lawsuit that it invites.
If your an insurer, don't write a homeowners policy for this breed.

Thank God it wasn't a small child.

Oh yeah, darn them to heck

for leaving THEIR dog in THEIR backyard on a nice day. Naive yes, but to blame, no. Tooker's dogs escaped and harmed another dog on another person's property. Even though the police can't charge him, I hope that the Romanos open up the legal equivalent of a pit bull on him. I hope there are civil options they can pursue for pain and suffering and damage to property.

Are you serious??

You have got to be kidding me. A family has a dog in their yard that is attacked and you blame the family. I am curious if you are a pitbull owner. That is the only reason I could think of that would make you write something as ridiculas as this.


You are some kind of idiot to blame an owner for leaving the animal in their enclosed back yard. Next you'll be blaming someone for leaving their animal inside their house for someone to break and steal them or harm them.

You are blaming the victim

You are blaming the victim for leaving their dog in a secure backyard. Your comment is disgraceful.